At the vanguard of electrification, it’s easy to see batteries and chargers as isolated technologies. However, their true potential is only unlocked when they’re viewed as complementary halves of a greater whole, rather than as separate entities.
As the world propels forward with the goal of net-zero emissions firmly in its sights, it becomes imperative for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and industry experts to cultivate a deep synergy between these power systems.
For OEMs committed to the longevity and dependability of their equipment, battery-charger compatibility is more than an operational footnote — it’s the foundation of efficiency and sustainability.
Several factors drive the ongoing electrification shift, including growing customer acceptance and the undeniable advantages of electric power in vehicles and non-road mobile machinery (NRMM), including reduced emissions and improved efficiency.
Additionally, adoption trends draw a clear trajectory, with significant market penetration expected for lithium battery-powered equipment in light of stringent environmental regulations.
Yet the benefits of an electric transition go beyond compliance, charging a path toward lower operating costs, reduced noise and vibrations, and enhanced end-user safety and comfort.
For OEMs, capitalizing on this efficiency and ensuring a smooth transition from internal combustion engines (ICE) involves an in-depth, start-to-finish understanding of battery and charging technologies. This encompasses the entire product lifecycle — from the initial design stages to installation and beyond — ensuring every step aligns with the principles of electrification.
Battery and charger integration: A delicate balance
The journey from ICE to electric requires a realignment of priorities, placing battery-charger compatibility at the core of design considerations. While meticulous, it’s this process that ensures the resulting electric machinery operates at peak potential.
The early stages of electrification begin with three core tenants:
1. User-centric design. Recognizing the specific needs and usage patterns of the target user to ensure the battery and charger deliver tailored performance.
2. Machine-specific requirements. Aligning the powertrain’s capabilities with the machine’s operational demands, such as peak power, continuous power, and duty cycles.
3. Regulatory adherence. Ensuring the design meets all compliance standards necessary for seamless market integration.
Compatibility comes into sharp focus when selecting the powertrain components, particularly batteries and chargers. There are several considerations, and in many cases, each one is multifaceted, involving both battery and charger.
For example, an OEM seeking to phase out ICE in their fleet of industrial machines must consider:
- What onsite power sources (e.g., ac, dc, EVSE, etc.) are available? Is my charger compatible with the relevant plugs and receptacles?
- What is my desired charge time and, therefore, the required level of power from the charger? Is my battery optimized to receive that level of charge?
- Will the machines have enough physical space for an on-board charger? Are the batteries and charging systems modular and scalable to support heavier-duty cycles?
Determining the answer to these questions requires strategic forethought, ideally guided by suppliers with technical and after-sales support capabilities. It may also involve more stringent evaluation, such as determining traction, auxiliary voltages, and electric power takeoff (ePTO) requirements.
But the choice of battery and charger is more than volts and amps. Proper care must be given to the integration process, verifying the battery management system (BMS) is correctly programmed with sufficient protection and control capabilities.
In essence, the design considerations for electrification are intrinsically tied to ensuring the battery and charger are not only individually efficient but are also properly attuned to one another.
Case study: Electrifying the commercial mower
Recently, a manufacturer was interested in converting one of its commercial zero-turn mowers from a high carbon-emitting internal combustion engine to an optimized and efficient carbon-free product.
By creating charging infrastructure tailored to lithium-ion batteries, collaborative efforts resulted in the smooth electrification of the mower. Ultimately, this approach extended its lifespan and power performance, streamlining the cost of ownership for end users.
Guiding OEMs through the electrification design process, from the battery to the charger, is key to a successful electrification transformation. It provides OEMs with visibility on the power and cost trade-offs for their battery and charging solutions.
In-the-field insights confirmed that, more than the technical aspects, the education of OEMs and end users remains the largest obstacle to electrification. (Read the full case study here.)
Securing the longevity and peak performance of electrified equipment involves more than selecting high-quality, but disparate components. It involves embracing a holistic approach from the beginning, ensuring each component and design choice contributes synergistically to the greater whole.
To ensure the long-term health and performance of electrified equipment, consider some field-tested best practices:
- Choose standard nominal voltages for ease of integration.
- Use Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components to leverage proven technologies and minimize procurement challenges.
- Begin battery and charger integration processes in the early design phases, tailoring to the equipment’s specific needs and performance requirements. Charger and battery compatibility must be tested to withstand difficult operating conditions and scenarios in the field.
- Design with regulatory compliance in mind, selecting subsystems that meet necessary standards and securing all necessary certifications early to avoid delays and redesigns.
- Testing and validation are a must. To ensure battery compatibility, battery and BMS partners can iteratively test and validate their batteries with a charger and its software and charge algorithms.
- Choose suppliers with a track record of successful EV implementation projects and the ability to collaborate to overcome engineering challenges and provide technical support.
By embedding these principles into the framework of electrification processes, OEMs position themselves at the forefront of an increasingly electric-centric market.
Charging a sustainable future
The health and performance of electrified equipment are inextricably linked to the compatibility of batteries and chargers.
By adhering to best practices and learning from past experiences, manufacturers can ensure that their equipment meets the demands of dynamic industries while delivering the performance and reliability that customers expect.
As the electrification imperative shows no sign of slowing, it’s up to OEMs to harness expert knowledge, minimize ownership costs, and maximize machine longevity. With a strong grasp on the interconnectivity of batteries and chargers as a foundation, sustainable success is sure to follow.
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Filed Under: Batteries, Charging